Hello to all! We are back in the blog business again! What a crazy couple months its’ been… we hope you’ve all been staying safe and keeping well during this time of uncertainty. We can understand that it’s been a stressful, emotional and trying period, but it’s nice to look at the progress that’s been made and the fantastic work everyone has done to do their part in stopping the spread.
We’ve posted it many times on our Facebook page, but we truly are thankful and very grateful to all our clients who have been patient and understanding throughout this time, and who have made it easier for the clinic whilst trying to adapt to the social distancing rules and regulations. It’s nice to be able to have people coming back through the front doors!
So – let’s jump straight back into the focus for this month – Gastro-intestinal (GI) diseases and disorders! This is a very broad topic and covers a lot of information, but being that many people are working from home and having more time with their pets, the more risk they have of trying to steal some of your lunch time meals or day-snacks!
So what are gastro-intestinal diseases?
Gastrointestinal (or as we refer to it as GI) diseases and disorders affect our pets’ stomach and intestines, resulting in pain and other problems. Any condition that affects the digestion or absorption of food, or alters its passage through the digestive tract, is referred to as a digestive disorder. Healthy digestion is essential for our fur-kids to be able to use the nutrients from their food to build and repair tissues and obtain energy. GI disorders can lead to dehydration, acid-base and electrolyte imbalances and malnutrition so they are something that shouldn’t be ignored.
What signs do I need to look out for?
Some of the most common signs to look out for include:
- Abdominal Pain
- Weight loss
- Blood in their poo
- Change in their appetite
There are many different conditions that can cause our furry friends to suffer with painful tummies, so let’s talk about some of the common ones we see here at the clinic:
Acute gastroenteritis: This condition causes inflammation or infection of the gastrointestinal tract- mainly affecting our pets’ stomachs and intestines. Acute gastroenteritis is usually short-term but can be caused by many things including - eating spoiled or rotten food, eating high-fat human food, swallowing foreign objects, eating toxic plants, internal parasites, stress, food allergies or substances not intended as dog food.
Colitis: By definition, Colitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the membrane lining the colon. It is most frequently caused by whipworms (a parasite), tumors or polyps, a change in food, allergies (including those to food), swallowed foreign objects and certain other diseases. Colitis is more common in dogs under the age of 5 and causes inflammation of the large intestine resulting in frequent, painful passing of faeces. They can also experience diarrhoea that may contain mucous and/or blood.
Constipation: This has several causes, including dehydration, eating indigestible materials such as bones or other foreign objects, eating very low fibre foods and lack of exercise.
Diarrhoea: Caused by infections, internal parasites, stress, a change in dog food, table scraps or rich snacks, eating spoiled food from the rubbish bin and body organ dysfunction.
Pancreatitis: An inflammation or infection of the pancreas (a gland that releases enzymes that aid digestion and hormones that help regulate the metabolism of sugars). Origins are frequently unknown. Potential causes are feeding foods high in fat or rich table foods (such as food from the BBQ or meats with fat on them like chops or roasts), infections, disease or trauma.
All these conditions can be fixed with veterinary treatment, so if your fur-kid start to show any of the above symptoms, or you’ve caught them in the act of snacking on something they shouldn’t be, it’s best to contact the clinic promptly.
To prevent an emergency trip to the clinic, ways you can prevent your pets from being tempted to eat things they shouldn’t can include
- Making sure all food is put away after your family BBQ (as soon as possible) and that they are up and out of paws-way. Also while you’re cooking, try not to leave the BBQ unattended if you don’t have a lid which you can use to cover the food.
- Don’t always presume your pet will leave food alone! Try not to leave any food on the table unattended, and use heavy lids or containers that you can put the food into
- Don’t feed your pets cooked bones – try a different treat instead
- Give your pet a long lasting treat like a porky chew or a Kong while you’re eating your family meal – that way they’ll feel like they’re eating with you guys and not missing out!
- Where possible, fence off gardens that contain mulch or compost so your furry friend can’t access it
- Make sure your bin can be hidden away or shut in a cupboard so your pets can’t eat things out of it when you’re not there
We understand that sometimes no matter how hard you try, our pets can get into mischief and eat things they shouldn’t. All you can do is assess your house and surroundings and try to dog/cat-proof it as much as possible.